In his speech at the State Department earlier in February, US President Joe Biden spelt out the priorities for his administration’s foreign policy. These included his intention to return the US to active global engagement, work closely with allies, promote multilateralism, and uphold democratic values and human rights.
He identified China as a formidable competitor and Russia as a threat but conveyed his intention to compete and, if necessary, confront, while also engaging with them to meet global challenges such as climate change, arms control, non-proliferation and pandemics.
On specific issues, Biden announced an end to US support to Saudi Arabia in the civil war in Yemen and reviving the Iran nuclear deal. India was not mentioned nor was Indo-Pacific. However, the appointment of a key adviser, Kurt Campbell, for the Indo-Pacific, makes it clear that it is a region of considerable importance to the US.
The convening of the third ministerial meeting of the Quad, comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia on 14 February, reportedly at the request of American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, reinforces its criticality.
Biden’s line on EU, Russia and China
In line with the centrality he has accorded to alliance relationships, Biden attended, on 19 February, an online summit of G-7 countries, all of whom are allies of the US and which, in the past, functioned as a global steering committee of a West-dominated global economic and security order.
While the G-7 has been supplanted by the G-20 as the premier international forum for global economic coordination, it continues to be an important consultative platform for Western economies and Japan. In a communique issued after the meeting, the G-7 pledged “to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism” and to put “our global ambitions on Climate Change and the reversal of bio-diversity loss at the centre of our plans”.
We may expect the US and Europe to coordinate their positions at the forthcoming Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow later this year.